The Perfect Mexican Horchata Recipe

5 from 14 votes
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How to make Horchata de Arroz, a popular traditional Mexican drink made with ground rice, milk, cinnamon, and vanilla. It’s rich, creamy, refreshing, and so easy to make!

Two glasses filled with horchata and topped with cinnamon sticks and cinnamon powder

With warm weather on the way, it’s the perfect time to learn how to make simple and refreshing drinks like creamy Brazilian lemonade, mangonada (chamoyada), and Mexican horchata de arroz. This simple Mexican rice rink is sweet, creamy, and perfectly refreshing on warm days and alongside spicy foods year-round!

There are many variations of horchata ingredients out there. This version, with condensed milk and whole milk, is my current favorite. It’s super duper creamy, made with pantry staples, and easy to adapt.

It’s perfect for serving on taco Tuesdays or any day of the week as well as for potlucks, picnics, Cinco de Mayo, and New Year’s.

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What Is Horchata?

Horchata (pronounced or-chaa-tah) is an umbrella term for several plant-based beverages in Latin America, Spain, and Africa. They’re generally made with ground nuts/seeds or grains, water, and sweetener, turning into a refreshing “milk,” perfect for warm days. They are considered types of “agua fresca” – meaning “fresh water” in Spanish.

Top view of two glasses with horchata and a small bowl with rice, few cinnamon sticks and cinnamon powder

In Spain and Africa, “Horchata de chufa” is made of soaked, sweetened, and blended tiger nuts and water. However, in Puerto Rico, “Horchata de Ajonjoli” uses roasted sesame seeds, cinnamon, and vanilla.

The version I’m replicating today is Mexican “Horchata de Arroz” (agua de horchata) – a popular beverage in Mexican restaurants across Mexico and the US, made with white rice and cinnamon (sometimes vanilla).

It’s a smooth, refreshing drink, sometimes with added milk or condensed milk to make it creamier. Its flavor is sweet, creamy, slightly nutty, and scented with vanilla & cinnamon – reminiscent of Mexican rice pudding (Arroz con Leche).

What Is Horchata Made of?

Authentic Mexican horchata contains no dairy. However, I’ve added some to this easy horchata recipe for a super creamy, sweet homemade horchata.

  • Rice: The best rice for horchata is white rice – jasmine rice, basmati, short grain, etc. I use regular white rice for the best horchata recipe.
  • Water: To make up the homemade rice milk.
  • Cinnamon: Use 1 cinnamon stick for a subtle flavor or two for a stronger infusion.
  • Milk: For a super creamy horchata drink, you’ll need a combination of sweetened condensed milk and whole milk (or evaporated milk). For a dairy-free alternative, use condensed coconut milk and canned coconut milk or another rich plant-based milk, like almond milk.
  • Vanilla extract: Use natural extract for the best flavor in this delicious drink.
Ingredients for Mexican horchata

If you’d prefer to use unrefined sweeteners or a sugar alternative, either make homemade condensed milk or use evaporated milk with your choice of sweetener. I.e., maple syrup, agave, or a sugar-free alternative like stevia.

If you’re looking for more ways to adapt and flavor this Mexican milk drink recipe, scroll down to the recipe card notes section for all my favorite mix-ins & variations.

How to Make Horchata

First, rinse the rice thoroughly until the water runs almost clear.

Then transfer it to a large bowl with the cinnamon stick. Cover it with water, and leave to soak overnight (or at least 6 hours), lightly covered in the fridge.

Soaked rice and cinnamon

Transfer the contents of the bowl to a high-speed blender with the remaining ingredients (condensed milk, whole milk, and vanilla). You may need to do this in batches.

Blend until you have a smooth and creamy mixture.

The rice should be almost completely ground. If your blender isn’t as high-powered, blend the cinnamon stick separately first.

Pour the blended Mexican rice milk drink through a fine-mesh strainer or nut milk bag into a pitcher (to strain the excess rice/cinnamon pulp), pressing/squeezing as you do.

Steps for blending and sieving horchata

You might find it easier to blend the soaking mixture first, strain it, then stir in the additional milk, condensed milk, and vanilla. It’s up to you.

Transfer the horchata back to the fridge to chill until you’re ready to serve – enjoy!

A glass and a pitcher with horchata

FAQs

How to make ahead and store?

Make ahead: You can leave the rice to soak up to 48 hrs in the fridge when making horchata, ready to blend. I don’t recommend longer, or the rice may start to ferment.
Fridge: Store the drink in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days, though it will taste freshest in the first day or two.
Freeze: You can freeze this Mexican rice drink for up to 3 months. I like to do so in ice cube form.
Shake it before serving, as sediment may settle at the bottom of the drink. And don’t keep it out of the fridge for longer than two hours.

Does horchata go bad?

Sniffing the horchata is the easiest way to tell if it has gone bad. When it goes off, it will smell sour/rancid. Likewise, an unusual taste, mold, or fizziness/foaminess are all signs to discard it.

How to serve Mexican horchata?

Traditionally, horchata is served in a tall glass with plenty of ice and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
While some people like to warm it, note the starches in the rice will cause the liquid to thicken.

Can I make Mexican horchata without a blender?

Traditionally, the Mexican horchata recipe was made using a molcajete and tejolote (similar to a mortar & pestle). This isn’t a method I’ve tried, though, and I imagine it will take a lot of patience (and arm muscle!).
You could make a 5-minute “cheat” recipe, combining pre-prepared rice milk with the remaining ingredients (using ground cinnamon or a little cinnamon extract).

A serving of horchata drink

More Refreshing Summer Drink Recipes

If you try this easy Mexican horchata recipe (agua de horchata), let me know how it goes in the comments below. I’d appreciate a recipe card rating and would love to see your recipe recreations – tag me on Instagram @Alphafoodie!

The Perfect Mexican Horchata Recipe

5 from 14 votes
By: Samira
How to make Horchata de Arroz, a popular traditional Mexican drink made with ground rice, milk, cinnamon, and vanilla. It's rich, creamy, refreshing, and so easy to make!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 12 hours 5 minutes
Servings: 4

Equipment

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 cup rice any dried white rice: jasmine, basmati, short-grain, long-grain
  • 3 cups water to soak the rice
  • 1 cinnamon stick or 1 Tbsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 cup condensed milk or coconut condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup whole milk or canned coconut milk/almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla paste

Instructions 

  • Rinse the rice thoroughly until the water runs almost clear.
  • Transfer the rice to a large bowl with the cinnamon stick. Cover it with the water, and leave it to soak overnight (or at least 6 hours), lightly covered in the fridge.
  • Transfer the contents of the bowl to a high-speed blender with the remaining ingredients (condensed milk, whole milk, and vanilla). You may need to do this in batches.
  • Blend until you have a smooth and creamy mixture.
    The rice should be almost completely ground. If your blender isn't as high-powered, blend the cinnamon stick separately first.
  • Pour the blended drink through a fine-mesh strainer or nut milk bag into a pitcher (to strain the excess rice/cinnamon pulp), pressing/ squeezing as you do.
    You might find it easier to blend the soaking mixture first, strain it, then stir in the additional milk, condensed milk, and vanilla. It's up to you.
  • Transfer the horchata back to the fridge to chill until you're ready to serve – enjoy!

Make Ahead and Store

  • Make ahead: You can leave the rice to soak for up to 48hrs in the fridge, ready to blend. I don’t recommend going further than that, though, or else the rice can begin to ferment.
    Fridge: Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for between 3-5 days, though it will taste freshest in the first day or two. Don't keep it out of the fridge for longer than two hours.
    Make sure to shake it before serving, as some sediment may settle at the bottom of the drink.

Notes

  • Sweeten to taste: Add maple syrup, agave, honey, or sugar/sugar-alternative of your choice for more sweetness. You can also substitute condensed milk for evaporated milk and your sweetener of choice.
  • If the drink is chalky/gritty: Pass it through a sieve/cheesecloth a second time. You shouldn’t have to do this if using a nut milk bag.
  • If the drink is too thick: Thin it with some additional milk or water.
  • To speed up the soak: Instead of the long overnight soak, you can use boiling water and soak the rice mixture for around 4 hours. I prefer the long soak, but this will do in a pinch.
  • Using the rice pulp: You can dry it and grind it into flour for baking (mug cakes, pancakes, etc.). You can also use it for rice pudding (arroz con leche) or Indian Rava Kesari.
  • For more complex flavor: Toast the rice in a dry pan until fragrant and golden brown.
Optional add-ins & variations:
  • Cardamom: Just a pinch will help enhance and add depth of flavor.
  • Almonds: Raw almonds (about ¼ cup) can be added to the rice when soaking for a richer, creamier horchata de arroz.
  • Boozy horchata: Add a little rum (bourbon/spiced rum), vodka, or Kahlua to each glass of horchata (to taste) for an adult treat.
  • Fruity horchata: You can make a delicious mango horchata or strawberry horchata by adding around one cup of fresh mango/strawberries to the blender. Increase the amount to taste.
  • Coconut horchata: Use coconut milk or coconut cream and, optionally, add some shredded coconut when blending.
  • Horchata latte: Prepare the horchata and serve it with a shot of espresso. Use cold-brew coffee and ice for a horchata iced latte.
Check the blog post for more tips!
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Mexican, South American
Freezer friendly: 3 Months
Shelf life: 4-5 Days

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup, Calories: 177kcal, Carbohydrates: 30g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 17mg, Sodium: 93mg, Potassium: 195mg, Fiber: 0.5g, Sugar: 25g, Vitamin A: 156IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 169mg, Iron: 0.1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Recipe Rating




2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    An absolutely phenomenal recipe! I’m obsessed with horchata and have to have try it at every Mexican restaurant I go to. This one was the best! I like it really sweet and served over crushed ice. Thank you!